Design lesson: A festive entrance
During the holidays, my seasonal decorating extends to nearly every room in the house, but nowhere is the extra effort more keenly appreciated than in the entranceway.
After all, 'tis the season we open our homes to family, friends, co-workers and neighbours, as well as unexpected (but always welcome) guests.
A stunning stairway
1 March a line of potted minitrees up the stairs, placing one tree on each tread. It's striking, and safer than tea lights.
2 Attach a miniwreath or stocking to every fourth baluster. To keep them in place, use plastic pull ties rather than wire, which can cut into wood and scratch painted surfaces.
3 Adorn the banister with greenery, intertwined through the balusters, scalloped along the side, or neatly tailored atop the railing. To wrap garland through the balusters, the garland should be twice the length of the banister. If you want to hang loose swags at regular intervals for a draping effect, you'll need a garland that's three times the length of the banister.
4 Create a garland of greeting cards by hanging a wide satin ribbon along the side of your staircase. Choose a selection of your favourite greeting cards and hang them over the ribbon. (For a cohesive display, choose cards that have similar colours and tones.)
5 Enliven each step with a single wrapped gift, placed to one side. Choose a vibrant paper colour to jazz up a neutral entrance.
Dos and don'ts to make your decor festive and cheerful
DO keep entrance decorations consistent with the colour scheme and style of adjoining rooms. However, remember that transition spaces, like the foyer, can handle a more intense palette since they're visited for short periods.
DO emphasize architectural features like archways and staircases with displays of garlands. Noble fir, white pine, cedar, seeded eucalyptus, holly and magnolia can be used to frame a room's best features. Contrasting textures like eucalyptus and fabric intensify each other, adding drama and interest.
DO keep refreshments at the ready. A silver or leather tray easily corrals offerings like cookies, sparkling cider and wine.
DON'T restrict yourself to one large Christmas tree. Create vignettes in key locations. For instance, place a tree on a landing, or nestle one into the curve of an elegant staircase.
DON'T forget the mistletoe. Create a “kissing ball” by grouping mistletoe in a tight orb, or hang a traditional spray from a centre light fixture.
DON'T assume all wreaths are round. A square wreath suits a modern loft, oval is ideal for a narrow Victorian, and a rectangular wreath strikes a classic pose above a wide piece of furniture.